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Region 5 Blog January 23rd, 2022
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The Importance of Flexibility

Posted by on December 8th, 2016 Posted in: News from Network Members

This is a guest post from Kathryn Kane, Health Sciences Outreach Librarian. It originally appeared in her blog, Adventures in Library Land: My Travels Through the World of Professional Librarianship. We welcome guest posts in Dragonfly. Please contact Patricia Devine if interested.

My position as a Health Sciences Outreach Librarian is entirely new, so I am able to design my work approach as I go along. I love that freedom, but as I’ve said before, it can also be challenging because I am essentially making things up as I go along. Sometimes my initial approach is successful, and sometimes it misses the mark. Over the last few months, I have been working on ways to increase awareness of health information resources among rural healthcare professionals in my region. The original aim was to meet with healthcare professionals in person and guide them through an interactive workshop, and supplement that contact with online resources.

I am now finding that the opposite approach may be more successful.

Healthcare professionals are busy. This is hardly a surprise to anyone familiar with this particular population. This makes it hard to find a convenient time for an hour-long workshop. And this problem is compounded because I am targeting rural healthcare professionals. This subset of healthcare professionals are more widely dispersed than their urban counterparts. So it becomes even harder to gather this group of people in one place.

I read hints of this in the literature, and I have experienced it myself. I spent weeks planning a series of workshops in the bigger cities in my region of focus, sending out posters and emails, and contacting people at the main hospitals. There was interest in the content, but few were interested enough to spend an hour in a workshop at the end of the day. I ended up cancelling the workshops.

This was hugely disappointing. I wanted to follow my grant proposal to the letter, but the reality of the situation is that doing so may result in a failure to reach the outlined objectives.The important thing to remember is the purpose of my position, which is to increase awareness of the health information resources available to rural healthcare practitioners. How that ends up taking shape is less important than actually accomplishing the objective.

I need to be willing to look honestly at my approach and evaluate what is working and what is not. I am still hopeful because people are telling me that this is information they want to learn, and an interested target audience is half the battle. My new strategy will be to hold online webinars and to create an online self-study module that healthcare professionals can access on their own time. I plan to supplement that virtual contact with site visits to hospitals during staff meetings, when people are already gathered in one place.

I am optimistic about this new approach. I have the rest of December to work out the details, and come January, I will be ready to start again!


Image of the author ABOUT Patricia Devine
Medical Librarian, Network Outreach Coordinator, NN/LM, PNR. I work for a network of libraries and organizations with an interest in health information.

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Developed resources reported in this program are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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